Whitey On The Moon: Not Any More

by , under Current Affairs, Economics, Emerging Church, News, Politics, Science, Technology

TRWNBT_album

Occasionally two things from the news catch your ear and resonate together. Today it was the news that Obama has cancelled Nasa’s new moon programme. And [ht Barry Taylor] that Gil Scott-Heron is back with a new album.

The connection? I’ve always loved Scott-Heron’s early, hard-hitting social commentaries. And the lyrics of ‘Whitey on the Moon’ just seem so appropriate in these tough economic times – especially post Haiti’s earthquake – that I wondered if Obama had been listening when he made his decision:

I can’t pay no doctor bills
But Whitey’s on the moon
Ten years from now I’ll be paying still
While whitey’s on the moon

You know, the man just upped my rent last night
Cause whitey’s on the moon
No hot water, no toilets, no lights
But whitey’s on the moon…

The racial context of 1974 America, into which the album The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was clearly different to that of 2010. But ‘whitey’ still exists in other guises: the greedy bankers, the tight landlords, the traffickers and corrupt politicians – all of those who would divert money away from just causes to fulfil their own agendas.

Actually, I think the original Apollo missions turned out to be good value, but I can’t see that these would be. So it’s a good decision by Obama. Let’s just hope the money that is saved goes into welfare programmes, not weapons.


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  1. Clare

    “I think the original Apollo missions turned out to be good value…” – For what reasons(s)?

    I’m not sure space exploration and research can be justified when there remain people on this planet who have existences instead of lives.

  2. Jonathan Hunt

    They were exceptional value. After all, a studio and a mock-up of the moon doesn’t cost much at all…

  3. KB

    I’m not even going to rise to the moon conspiracy crap!

    And in terms of value, I think it might be possible to balance the leaps ahead in technology and connected advances which have benefited a great deal of people with the amount spent on those missions.

    Equally, before we are too harsh on space exploration, we should consider what ‘use’ the arts are when there are people starving too… See this connected post: ‘On Beauty and Justice‘. Personally, as an ‘arts’ project, I still think the moon landings are right up there with Shakespeare. Right out the bounds of human possibility. Beautiful. Well crafted. But not to be repeated now.

  4. Clare

    Doh! – true. It slipped my mind they were faked. It’s a pity though that more resource-hungry pursuits aren’t similarly treated.

  5. Clare

    “…I think it might be possible to balance the leaps ahead in technology and connected advances which have benefited a great deal of people with the amount spent on those missions.”

    Yeah, I like the internet and I am deeply grateful for waterproof and breathable fabric (which I think I’m right in saying are both products of space research). But I still think it’s skewed to have such innovations arise from what basically amounts to a spirit of machismo and one-upmanship.

  6. Acetate Monkey

    Maybe we’re reading history backwards. Our awareness of the grillions who carve out an existence elsewhere on the planet, and our interconnectedness was rather more stunted in the 60s (pre-interweb). Here in C21 we’re maybe a bit more aware off the Peter we’re robbing to pay paul. Or to put a cynical hat on, the politicians are aware that we are aware of the alternative potential destinations that space-dollars could have gone to. Can we judge that space plan by today’s standards?

    Apart from the material benefits on velcro etc that came out of the space race, we also have a generation of inspired kids who failed to become spacemen but now do all kinds of helpful sciencey things. It’s a good example of good coming out of bad: progress and possibility coming out of dick-swinging.

  7. origamer

    “I’m not sure space exploration and research can be justified when there remain people on this planet who have existences instead of lives.”

    – If the discovery of another habitable planet would save humankinds extintion in the future, surely the extra funding on space recearch and exploration would be more than justified.